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Attack ad in State Rep. race highlights Old Philly vs. New Philly divide

The ads are notable in how bluntly they play on Old Philly vs. New Philly themes.

An attack ad in a state House race is notable in how bluntly it plays on Old Philly vs. New Philly themes
An attack ad in a state House race is notable in how bluntly it plays on Old Philly vs. New Philly themesRead moreAD

It wouldn't be Election Day in Philadelphia if there wasn't a last-minute negative ad on the streets.

South Philly voters recently received a pair of mailers slamming Democrat Elizabeth Fiedler, a former WHYY reporter running in a contentious four-way primary for state representative.

They said Fiedler "went district shopping" and "doesn't know us." They also said Fiedler "decided she wanted to run for office, so she moved from North Philly to a State Rep district in Center City in 2016 … months later, Fiedler rented out her new house and signed a lease in South Philly."

Fiedler called the ads "false" and "said such "negative attacks stop so many great community leaders from running for office."

Fiedler's campaign said that she never lived in Center City, and that she moved to South Philly in 2014. She has lived in Philadelphia since 2003, her team said, and spent 10 years in North Philly.

Fiedler's campaign said she does rent her home.

The ads are notable in how bluntly they play on Old Philly vs. New Philly themes.

Fiedler is running in the 184th District, a rapidly gentrifying area that includes the East Passyunk Crossing and Pennsport areas. She has campaigned on Medicare-for-All, and has the support of the teachers' union and Our Revolution, a group formed out of Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign.

The 184th's incumbent legislator, State Rep. Bill Keller, is retiring at the end of the year and supporting Jonathan "J.R." Rowan to succeed him. Rowan, a state Senate aide and ward leader, has received major financial support from the city's electricians union. Rowan's campaign has highlighted his Philly roots and his promise to continue "Bill Keller's work to expand the port."

The anti-Fiedler ads were paid for by Friends of Ward 39B, according to a disclosure on the mailers. The Democratic leader of that ward is Matthew Myers, who is Rowan's uncle as well as the brother of Michael "Ozzie" Myers, a former congressman convicted of bribery.

Myers did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Rowan campaign doubled down on the message in the ad.

"There is no record of Fiedler living in South Philly before 2016, when she bought a house outside the district and then decided to rent another house 10 blocks away," said Dave Mellet, a spokesman for the Rowan team. "When she realized the district she lived in was too tough to win, she rented a new house before the paint finished drying."

Criticizing the mailers, Fiedler also touched on the Old Philly vs. New Philly trope, albeit more subtly than the ads. "My neighbors and the residents behind the thousands of South Philly doors I've knocked on say the same thing: The system isn't working for us and we're tired of politics as usual," she said.

A private poll conducted in early April showed Fiedler ahead in the 184th District primary.

Also running in the Democratic contest are attorney Tom Wyatt and former police detective Nicholas DiDonato.